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Am J Hypertens. 2016 Feb;29(2):149-57. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpv180. Epub 2015 Nov 11.

Hypertension and Its Role in Cognitive Function: Current Evidence and Challenges for the Future.

Author information

1
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.
2
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA. kmsink@wakehealth.edu.

Abstract

This review summarizes evidence from studies of blood pressure and dementia-related biomarkers into our understanding of cognitive health and highlights the challenges facing studies, particularly randomized trials, of hypertension and cognition. Several lines of research suggest that elevated blood pressure, especially at midlife, is associated with cognitive decline and dementia and that treatment of hypertension could prevent these conditions. Further, studies of hypertension and brain structure show that blood pressure is associated with several forms of small vessel disease that can result in vascular dementia or interact with Alzheimer's pathology to lower the pathologic threshold at which Alzheimer's signs and symptoms manifest. In addition, recent studies of hypertension and Alzheimer's biomarkers show that elevated blood pressure and pulse pressure are associated with the extent of brain beta amyloid (Aβ) deposition and altered cerebral spinal fluid profiles of Aβ and tau indicative of Alzheimer's pathology. However, in spite of strong evidence of biological mechanisms, results from randomized trials of antihypertensive therapy for the prevention of cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease that include cognitive endpoints do not strongly support the observational evidence that treatment of hypertension should be better for cognition. We propose that future clinical trials should consider including dementia biomarkers and assess genetic and cardiometabolic risk factors that have been associated with progression of the underlying disease pathology to help bridge these gaps.

KEYWORDS:

Alzheimer’s disease; blood pressure; cognition; dementia; hypertension; review.

PMID:
26563965
PMCID:
PMC4989128
DOI:
10.1093/ajh/hpv180
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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